The U.S. Men's Basketball Team may get all the hype, but it was the American Women's Team who truly were the dominant squad (8-0) at these 2016 Olympic Games, as they rolled to a sixth straight Olympic gold medal and remained undefeated with an impressive 101-72 win over Spain (6-2) on Saturday afternoon at Carioca Arena 1 in Rio de Janeiro.
"Obviously it was an incredible tournament for us," said USA head coach Geno Auriemma. "From the very first game that we played to today, with very few exceptions I thought we played basketball at a really high level. I can't say enough about our players. How quickly they've come together, how much they've been able to accomplish in less than a month that we've been together."
The game was close for the first 13 minutes before the USA began to pull away. Led by four players in double-digit scoring, including Diana Taurasi with 17 points on 5-of-7 three-point shooting, and Lindsay Whalen with 17 points and six assists, the USA got 55 points off its bench. The Americans outrebounded Spain 51-28, and scored 23 points off of 17 Spanish turnovers.
"It wasn't as easy as sometimes it looked, these last two games especially with France and today against Spain," Auriemma continued. "These are very good teams that we're playing, and you could see that it wasn't just a cake walk, that it was a struggle. Then finally, because of our depth and because of the experience on our team, we were able to separate ourselves."
In the second quarter, a scoring drought from Spain and back-to-back threes from Taurasi put the U.S. ahead, 37-24. The USA closed the quarter strong, outscoring Spain 12-6 to go ahead 49-32 at halftime.
Maya Moore scored nine of her 14 points in the second, while the U.S. defense buckled down in the second period to hold Spain to 5-of-18 shooting (.278) from the field. Moore also finished with six assists.
"You play these eight games and you want to win so bad," Taurasi said. "The one thing we didn't do is we didn't take any possessions off. We played every single game like it's a gold medal game, and that's why I think you see everyone is emotionally and physically spent right now. And that takes a certain character of team and individuals. I've never been a part of anything like this."
The USA was a red-hot 77.8 percent from the field (14-18 FGs), while it raced to 32 points in the third quarter. The Americans held Spain to 33.3 percent from the field (6-18 FGs) and just 17 points in the period to all but seal the win. Nine U.S. players put points on the board in the third, including two more treys from Taurasi, and six points from Elena Delle Donne, who tallied 10 in the game.
"I'm just really happy," said Sue Bird. "We just did something that's pretty incredible. When you get together as a team and you know you only have a month to do something, it's remarkable in so many ways that we were able to put this together and do it in a fashion that leaves no question marks. This put us on the map as arguable one of the best teams and we had fun doing it. Not only that, you can talk about the 100-point games or the margin of victory, but we played our butts off. We really did. I don't think I've ever been around a group that's this talented and also played this hard. Again, I'm just super happy. I'm proud of my teammates. I'm proud I'm part of this group. I'm happy for coach Auriemma and the rest of the staff, and it's just a really fun day today."
The U.S. women now have won eight gold medals in Olympic competition, own a 49-game Olympic win streak and an overall record of 66-3 since beginning play in 1976.
Serbia (4-4) beat France (4-4) 70-63 to win the bronze medal.
By Staff of TheDailySportsHerald.com and news services